Meaning of WANG WEI in English

born 699, Ch'i-hsien, Shansi Province, China died 759 Pinyin Wang Wei, also called Wang Mo-ch'i one of the most famous men of arts and letters during one of the golden ages of Chinese cultural history. Wang Wei is popularly known as a model of humanistic education as expressed in poetry, music, and painting. In the 17th century, the writer on art Tung Ch'i-ch'ang (q.v.) established him as the founder of the revered Southern school of painter-poets, considering the painting of such literati (wen-jen) as more concerned with personal expression than surface representation. Because of that later elevation to an almost mythical status, it is difficult to ascertain the man himself. Wang Wei was born and brought up during the T'ang dynasty (618-907) when the capital, Ch'ang-an, was a truly cosmopolitan city which enjoyed both wealth and security. He received the prestigious chin-shih ("advanced scholar") degree in the imperial civil-service examination system at the age of 21-probably more for his musical talents than anything else, although he is said to have revealed his literary talents as early as the age of nine. He rose to high office but was soon demoted and given an unimportant position in Shantung, being recalled to the capital in 734, and given a post in the censorate. In 756, when Ch'ang-an was occupied by the troops of the rebellious general An Lu-shan, Wang Wei was captured and taken to the rebel capital at Lo-yang, where he was forced to accept a post in the administration. After Ch'ang-an and Lo-yang had been recaptured by the imperial forces in 758, Wang was saved from disgrace because of the loyal sentiments expressed in a poem he had composed while a prisoner of the rebels, and because of the intercession of his brother Wang Chin, an imperial high official. Toward the end of his life he became disillusioned; and, further saddened by the deaths of his wife and mother, he withdrew into the study of Buddhism at his country villa at Wang Ch'an (Wang River), where many of Wang Wei's best poems were inspired by landscape in the vicinity. Wang Wei's art can only be theoretically reconstructed on the basis of contemporary records and surviving copies of his paintings. He undoubtedly painted a variety of subjects and employed various styles, but he is particularly famous for being among the first to develop the art of landscape. He is best known for ink monochrome (shui-mo) landscapes, especially snowscapes. The latter demanded the use of the broader ink wash technique with which he is associated known as p'o-mo, "breaking the ink." His paintings, then, were both integrations of past traditions and innovative; but certainly it was that combination of the painter who is also a great poet that brought about his almost holy status in later ages. Virtually every anthology of Chinese poetry includes his works, and he is mentioned together with such famous T'ang poets as Li Po (701-762) and Tu Fu (712-770) as among those who perfected the "lyric poetry" (shih) form.

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